These days, TVs are expected to do a lot more than just fire pretty pictures into your eyeballs. LG's doing its bit to make tellies more clever with its Smart TV with Android operating system., a telly that's powered by Google's
LG's Google-flavoured efforts have been made official at the CES trade show in Las Vegas -- read on to hear about how the system works, and be sure to check back later for more photos and videos of the TV in action.
There's no word yet on pricing or availability, but we'll let you know as soon as we glean anything.
Google's Android operating system is best known for powering some of the most advanced mobile phones on the planet, and it's adept at handling apps and web browsing. Loads of TVs already offer on-demand video and the ability to download and install apps, but to date the interface of these systems has been clunky, slow and generally about as pleasant as pulling bubble gum out of your hair.
Hopefully putting Android inside LG's TVs will make them easier to use. As you can see in the picture below, along the bottom of the Google TV interface is a row of icons used for navigation, while the different things you could be watching are arranged in chunky boxes above.
By far the most interesting of those icons are the ones on the far right, namely YouTube, Android Market, Google Chrome and Search. These are the features likely to set Google TVs apart because they draw on the things Google does especially well.
Another benefit of having Android stuffed inside your telly is that you'll be able to multitask -- having the set's search, social and TV features running at the same time. We're a little concerned that this could prove overwhelming --or worse, distracting -- but we won't know for sure until we can give this telly the full review treatment.
If the idea of faffing about trying to check your email or looking up the name of an actor on your TV sounds like a chore, you'll be glad to know that LG has a fancy new remote that should make these things easier.
The daftly-titled Magic Remote Qwerty works a lot like a Wii controller. You point your remote at the telly and make your selection using an on-screen arrow that appears where you're pointing. It also has a full Qwerty keyboard to speed up your typing.
It's not often we get excited about a remote control, but this one seems pretty tempting because it combines a mouse and keyboard into one stick. Trying to browse the web or enter text using more traditional remotes is agonisingly slow, so here's hoping LG's wand turns the Google-powered bits of the TV into something people feel they want to play with regularly, rather than a seldom-used extra.
Though it hasn't exactly captured the hearts of the gadget-buying populace, TV makers are still betting big on 3D, and LG is no different. As such, LG's Google TV will come crammed with triple-dimensional fun.
If 3D sounds like a massive headache (literally or figuratively), then you might be pleased to know that LG tellies use passive-3D tech. That means the glasses you wear aren't battery powered, and as such they're much, much cheaper to buy. There's 2D-to-3D conversion on board too, but that process often makes for an unsightly 3D picture.
We haven't had a chance to test this TV's 3D chops yet, but passive 3D makes for a fairly comfortable viewing experience, so we're cautiously optimistic.
The LG Google TV we saw looked trendy enough, with a ribbon-shaped flat metal stand holding it up, and a silver-coloured bezel surrounding the screen. It's stylish, but we've been spoiled by LG's new 55-inch OLED TV, which is just 4mm thick and has a bezel so narrow it might as well not exist.
By comparison, the Google TV that LG was showing off looked somewhat old fashioned, but our first impressions are that this is still a decent-looking telly.
Our eyes-on time was limited, and so we don't want to make claims yet about picture quality, suffice to say the panel looked crisp and colourful, with no obvious flaws. We'll be able to deliver a full analysis once we've forced this TV through our rigorous review process.
This isn't the first TV we've seen that promises to make our telly into a social networking, web browsing, app-filled machine, but it is the one we're most excited about thanks to the Android operating system that's running the show.
This could be the point at which online features become a crucial part of any new TV, rather than just a pleasant extra. Stay tuned.